Bridging payments go out to more than 3,200 farmers

Bridging payments worth more than £117m have been paid out to more than 3,200 farms in England, the Rural Payments Agency has announced.

The Rural Payments Agency is still processing payments for four per cent of Basic Payment Scheme recipients in the 2017 round.

More than 96 per cent of farmers who signed up to receive direct European support payments under the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) have now received their full payments, the Agency added.

Paul Caldwell, the Agency’s chief executive, said: “We have made solid progress in delivering payments to farmers this year, with more than 96 per cent now paid, and I am pleased so many of this final four per cent have now received their bridging payments.

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Thousands of farmers face cash squeeze as they await support payments
Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency.

“As always, there is more to do, and the RPA will continue working to make the final remaining payments. But now is also the time to get online to make sure your application for 2018 is in before the deadline closes in May.”

Annual BPS payments are paid to farmers from the start of December and while the RPA has until the end of June to make the payments, every year there are farms that are made to wait for months into the new year before receiving theirs.

Farming groups insist that prompt payments are essential for cash flow and the longer into the winter months that farm businesses have to wait, the more likely they are to encounter cash flow problems due to the extra funds often needed to cover the likes of extra feed costs for livestock during periods of wintry weather.

Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency.

Farming Minister George Eustice announced in January that farmers without payments by the end of March will be offered a bridging payment in April of 75 percent of the value of their claim, a move which senior officials at the National Farmers’ Union wanted to be executed earlier.

The remaining four per cent of farmers who have yet to receive their full entitlements require “more complex processing and therefore take longer to complete”, the RPA said.

Meanwhile, the Agency has received more than 18,000 BPS applications for the 2018 round.

The application window opened in March and a record 90 per cent of the applications made so far have been online, as farmers continue to make the switch from paper forms.

The application deadline is May 15.